But it's important to log these things for posterity so the details are not forgotten. We can either learn from history or repeat it, and nobody wants a repeat of 20-fucking-20. Worryingly, many people are acting as if it's just some random bad calendar year instead of the result of unbridled human greed & narcissism. That's a surefire way to ensure we repeat it or make things even worse going forward. (Yes, things can get worse). Much can be learned by reflecting on where we went wrong, both as individuals and as a society.
So without further ado, here are the worst parts of 2020 in no particular order. Feel free to Google and fact-check anything here or add to it in the comments:
* Arrival of SARS-CoV-2 in the U.S. in early 2020. Immediately before its arrival, a meme circulated joking that the '20s always started with a pandemic or plague.
* Killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake & Rayshard Brooks by police. These events spark protests across the country, some of which turn violent. Police killed 168 Black Americans in the first 8 months of 2020 alone.
* The government bailing out corporations instead of giving working people a basic income, rent freezes, universal healthcare or other means to stay home & fight the pandemic. Individuals were given a one-time $1,200 stimulus check that amounts to around $6 per day when stretched over the course of the year.
* People using their cars as projectiles to mow down protesters in multiple cities similar to the Charlottesville Car Attack...and onlookers attempted to defend the killers.
* Federal agents in unmarked vehicles snatch people off the streets in Portland & other cities. Police also killed anti-fascist protester Michael Forest Reinoehl in custody 5 days after he killed a Trump supporting protester at a Portland rally. Contrast this with police treatment of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old who shot 3 protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin with an AR-15 semi-automatic style rifle and was taken into custody without incident.
* President Trump wishing known pedophile/child trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell "well" at a press conference. This was followed immediately by the #SaveOurChildren social media campaign by Trump supporters, likely in an attempt to deflect from his "gaffe".
* The USPS debacle: Sorting machines were dismantled & removed from post offices across the country in an unprecedented move by Louis Dejoy, Postmaster General. This resulted in people not receiving their medications & other vital mail as a result.
* Mass of evictions that dwarfed those of the 2008 housing crisis. As usual, Native American, Black, LGBT, disabled & Hispanic renters have been most heavily affected.
* The government forcing teachers & students to go back to school in the Fall by threatening to pull federal funding if they failed to resume in-person classes after COVID cases skyrocketed all summer.
* Wildfires in California turn the skies orange & sepia, burning millions of acres & killing several people. Temperatures in Death Valley, CA, reached an all-time high of 130-degrees Fahrenheit over the summer. These events are a result of climate change but no politician in either party is proposing a serious green plan to address it, nor are our mainstream media outlets reporting on it as such.
* The president admits knowing from the beginning how deadly COVID was & downplaying it after a year of holding largely maskless rallies. Nothing is done--he's not impeached or otherwise punished. Deaths reach 185,000 around this time.
* Police shoot 13-year-old autistic child Linden Cameron in his home during a call for assistance by the boy's mother in Glendale, Utah. The boy was unarmed & having a mental health crisis. He was left with injuries to his shoulder, ankles, intestines, bladder and colon, as well as nerve damage.
* Trump cutting payroll taxes as a means to stimulate the economy & promising to permanently end the payroll tax if re-elected. This would spell the end for the Social Security Disability & Retirement programs, with some arms of the program ending as soon as 2021. In addition, the money saved by holding out these taxes will have to be paid back by workers & is considered a loan rather than an actual stimulus or bonus.
* Jeff Bezos becomes the first man worth $200 billion while unemployment soars & his workers in Amazon factories struggle with harsh working conditions & low pay.
* Joe Biden vetoing Medicare For All during a pandemic despite it being part of the Democratic Party platform supported by a majority of Democrat voters. He's also promised to increase the military budget past its current $7 billion mark & plans to enforce the penalty for those who can't afford private health insurance, placing his stance on healthcare to the right of Trump's. To seal the deal, he picks a former prosecutor & police officer as his Vice President and replies that he "supports police" when asked whether he supports the Black Lives Matter movement.
* Untimely deaths of many beloved public figures: Kobe Bryant, Naya Rivera, Carl Reiner, Little Richard, Chadwick Boseman, Toots Hibbert, Regis Philbin, Wilford Brimley, Kelly Preston, Charlie Daniels, Nick Cordero, Hugh Downs, John Lewis, Larry Kramer, Fred Willard, Andre Harrell, Jerry Stiller, Roy Horn, Cady Groves, Brian Dennehy, Eddie Van Halen, Sean Connery, Alex Trebek, Johnny Nash, Nikki McKibbin, Natalie Desselle-Reid, Brodie Lee, John Prine & MF DOOM.
* A terrible year for hurricanes & tropical storms. 5 cyclones were active at one time in September: Sally, Teddy, Paulette, Renee, Vicky. The last time there were five storms at once in the Atlantic was 49 years ago in 1971. Multiple floods plagued the Southern states as well. More evidence of climate change.
* Former Congressman Ron Paul has a stroke during a livestream video, triggering an outpouring of concern from viewers.
* Ignoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dying wish, Trump nominates hyper-conservative Amy Coney Barrett as her Supreme Court replacement. Recall that Republicans roundly rejected Merrick Garland--Obama's SCOTUS pick--in 2016 citing the proximity to the election. If Barrett is appointed, it will be the most conservative Supreme Court since 1950.
While it seems on the surface like this year and this administration are the problem, it's much deeper than that. Both COVID and the climate crisis are the culmination of human overpopulation & destruction of the natural world by corporations going back generations, while racism & violence were pivotal in the formation of this nation & have been present ever since. Outrage has been building since the high-profile deaths of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner & Michael Brown before Trump ever ran for president. Wealth inequality will only get worse as we enter late-stage capitalism unless aggressive regulations are put in place to stifle the 1%'s ability to hoard wealth & exploit workers (unlikely). None of these problems is new to 2020 or the Trump administration, sadly. They're just now coming to a head.
In reality, neo-liberal policies going back to Jimmy Carter have laid the groundwork for the neo-fascist Trump regime. It's unlikely that electing more of the same out-of-touch centrists with mindsets like Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer or Pete Buttigieg is going to change anything for the better. They care only about serving their wealthy donors & enriching themselves in the moment, not preserving the planet for future generations.
The division between everyday working & poor people has reached a fever pitch as well. It's become de riguer to say 'up' when the other political party says 'down'. Our rugged individualism & defense of personal freedoms has resulted in the worst pandemic management on Earth--a fact history won't look kindly on. Wearing a mask & washing your hands when you're unable to socially distance is not asking much. Staying put when police detain you is the right move; likewise, not shooting a suspect with a lethal weapon should be the first, second & third course of action unless an officer's life is in imminent danger (which it usually isn't). Waiting until all the facts are in before judging a situation should be your go-to, and we should all strive to be less hypocritical. None of this is a guarantee that things will go your way but it's a damn sight better than being a prideful asshole.
Enemy nations see this division as an opportunity to plant additional seeds of destruction. Not just Russia but China, North Korea, Iran & Cuba as well as the Middle East & elsewhere. I see citizens from all over the globe cheering our downfall in the comment sections of Youtube, Reddit & Facebook. But we're too caught up in our own drama to see the threat. And we've become too preoccupied with the pandemic & economic fallout to tackle the looming climate crisis, which is a far wider reaching threat in the long-term. It's starting to look like our downfall will come from within at the hands of the wealthy & powerful few. Or maybe that's always been the case. A corporate coup d'état in slow motion as the visionary Chris Hedges calls it.
Where We Go From Here
If you really want to make a difference, focus on going beyond just voting every 4 years. A single day of community organizing, protest, volunteering, mutual aid, striking, unionizing, boycotts or other grassroots work at the local level is worth a lifetime of voting in presidential elections. Voting is fine but don't stop there. If you're going to vote, put at least as much thought into local elections as your voice is far more impactful there. A system in which the popular vote is overridden by the Electoral College and where gerrymandering, redlining, postal service disruptions, voter machine hacking & other forms of fuckery abound should not be the basket you put all your eggs in. In other words, voting in presidential elections is the least you can do, not the most.
As Dr. Cornel West says, I'm hopeful but not optimistic. It's important to maintain hope even in times of darkness. How? By looking to history. Every period of extreme turmoil is followed by an equal or greater period of advancement & renaissance. But it won't happen by itself. We have to come together based on our shared humanity & not give into our darker drives to fuck over our fellow human. As long as we are living, there is hope. In fact, we don't even have to be alive. The greatest leaders have fought for a hopeful future they never saw.